Press Office

RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index improves slightly

Press release from 25 October 2016

During September 2016, the Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) slightly improved to 119.5 points. The revised estimate for August currently stands at 118.8 (revised up by 0.6 points).

Despite this momentary upturn, the total RWI/ISL-Container Throughput index still indicates nothing more than a meagre expansion of world trade in 2016 and actually still falls short of levels achieved already in 2014.

Container Throughput Index
The flash-estimate for September is based on data reported by 44 ports, accounting for ~ 75% of the total index volume. The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for September will be released on November 24th.

Background Information

The Container Throughput Index is a joint project of RWI with the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL). It aims at providing timely information on short term trends in international trade. The index is based on the consideration that containers have become the most important means of transporting processed products. Therefore, the global container throughput and international trade can be expected to be highly correlated.

As a part of their monthly reporting many ports publish data on container throughput expressed in twenty foot equivalent units (TEU). ISL collects these data systematically in its port database. Currently, the data base covers 81 ports providing time series of monthly figures which are long enough to be integrated into the indicator. In these ports about 60% of world container throughput is handled.

Calculating the indicator starts about 20 days after the end of each month. At that time about 25 ports have already publish information about the container throughput in the latest months, which allow a flash estimate of the indicator. Data still missing are forecasted using statistical time series models. Thereafter, the data are added up and the sum is adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects. Furthermore, the trend-cycle component of the seasonally adjusted figures is estimated to eliminate irregular influences. One month later, as a rule data on 65 ports are available. Then an update of the figures already published is made and a new flash estimate for the latest month is released.

Hitherto, the RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index shows a close correlation with world trade. The index provides valuable input into business cycles analyses, since it is available 3 to 4 months in advance of data on world trade published by international organizations, and one month in advance of the first estimates of world trade volumes.



Prof. Dr. Roland Döhrn, Tel.: (0201) 8149-262,
Jörg Schäfer (Press Office), Tel.: (0201) 8149-244,

Index Data